Improving Meetings

Meetings are essential to collaboration, but they’re the bane of people’s existence. A couple of academics in 2006 wrote about the problem of attending too many meetings and spending too much time there. Based on earlier research on meetings, the academics did the following:

They devised a pair of hypotheses, educatedly guessing that:

1. The more meetings one has to attend, the greater the negative effects; and

2. The more time one spends in meetings, the greater the negative effects.

Then they performed an experiment to test these two hypotheses. Thirty-seven volunteers each kept a diary for five working days, answering survey questions after every meeting they attended and also at the end of each day. That was the experiment.

The results speak volumes. “It is impressive,” Luong and Rogelberg write in their summary, “that a general relationship between meeting load and the employee’s level of fatigue and subjective workload was found”. Their central insight, they say, is the concept of “the meeting as one more type of hassle or interruption that can occur for individuals”.

My Comments
1. Given the centrality of meetings to collaboration, in line with the findings above, it is imperative that the meetings people attend / go to / engage at “succeed.” Anything less lays the foundation for poor overall success of the organization.

2. What if there were three simple strategies for meetings that reduced (a) the length of the average meeting by 30%, (b) improved the effectiveness of the outcomes from the meeting by 50%, and (c) changed the dynamic so that people “loved meetings.” Would you be interested?

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